The notorious Gupta brothers Rajesh and Atul’s lives could be in danger if they are extradited and set foot into South Africa, due to the information they have about powerful people about the country.
This is according to political analyst Ralph Mathekga who spoke to The Citizen following the brothers’ arrest.
Rajesh and Atul Gupta were handcuffed in Dubai on Monday after fleeing South Africa with their families several years ago.
The brothers’ arrest comes following an Interpol red notice which was issued last year for the friends of former President Jacob Zuma, who were wanted for widespread graft, fraud, and money laundering.
They may know too much
While many want a speedy extradition of the brothers to South Africa, Mathekga believes the Guptas might be in danger when they set foot on South African soil, because of the information they possess about the African National Congress (ANC) and top politicians.
Mathekga said politics in South Africa will be unraveled if the Guptas are extradited.
“They will be having to speak the truth and it’s a dangerous thing for the ANC. I won’t be surprised if someone tries to kill them. This thing is big, it goes deep into the party, so look at what happened to the likes of Gavin Watson.”
“When you are becoming a liability and in a moment such as this when the ANC is at this crossroad, ANC members will not be enticed. We’ve seen how they kill each other, I don’t think there will be a problem,” Mathekga said.
They could be seen as a threat
Gareth Newham, head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Program at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) shared his perspective with The Citizen on the safety of the Guptas if they were to be extradited to South Africa.
Newham said there may be people, possibly even Zuma that were implicated in state capture and would see the Guptas as a threat.
“That would be dependent on whether they would be willing to relay information and considering that they would want to avoid spending the rest of their lives in prison, I can’t imagine they would be very keen to give that information up.”
“What they would be doing with their billions is trying to ensure like our former president that they use every possible legal channel available, the ‘Stalingrad Strategy’ so to speak, to try and avoid standing trial and then they would try and make sure they are acquitted by not cooperating and providing potentially plausible narrative or evidence as to why they are not guilty of any crime,” said Newham.
Newham said he does not believe that the Gupta brothers would be immediately at risk.
“I supposed if they were to turn state witness in order to give evidence against former ministers, key people in the security structures or the former president himself, that could change the risk profile or risk statement of them.”
Newham said given the value of the Gupta brothers to the South African government, the fugitives from justice would be under intense protection against any attacks.
“They wouldn’t be treated like ordinary suspects. They would be guarded by security agents to make sure that nothing happens to them because I can tell you that they probably will use this in an attempt not to go through extradition proceedings in Dubai as you’ve see seen with Shrien Dewani.”
Newham said if there are likely to be people who want to silence the Guptas, it would be an incredible embarrassment to the country and the South African government.
Arrests have nothing to do with Dollargate
Newham also said he believes the Guptas’ arrest and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s troubles with the $4 million robbery at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo are not related.
“The timing and the decision to arrest them are completely in the hands of the Dubai officials and they’ll be far more influenced by what their monarchy agrees to or not agrees to then what the South Africans would want.”
Newham has echoed the presidency’s concerns surrounding Arthur Fraser’s timing of the allegation against Ramaphosa saying it should be questioned.
“It does raise questions, given that serious allegations against him (Fraser) first emerged in 2017, in fact earlier than that. He in fact left the SSA (State security Agency) initially under a cloud when Zuma was president, and its worrying that there don’t seem to be at this stage anyway any action being taken against him.”
“It doesn’t mean what he’s saying is false or that Ramaphosa hasn’t really done anything wrong, but when you have people who have been in the state security agency and failed to take any action to prevent state capture, failed to take any action to uphold the state and democracy, uphold the oath of office rather than being fired and criminally prosecuted, who just shifted sideways from the SSA to the protection services where he still sat on top secret meetings related to corruption in South Africa, that’s where the problem is.
“We need a kind of process to clear out and make sure that these people are held accountable for the crimes they committed against the people of this country, because until they are, they’re going to keep on doing this kind of thing,” said Newham.
Newham said it is very unclear how much of the allegations Fraser came forward with are actually true or not.
“It’s going to destabilize the government because the president has to spend his time responding to all these things which might be not true… These ongoing attacks to try and weaken him politically by people who are completely compromised is a problem if you don’t have the systems to make sure that those people themselves are going to prison for the crimes they committed against us,” said Newham.